The Major: Going to have a flutter, Fawlty?
Basil: No. No, no, no, no, no.
Sybil: No, Basil doesn’t bet anymore. Do you, dear?
Basil: No, I don’t, dear, no. No, that particular avenue of pleasure has been closed off.
I’m with Basil. Are there any avenues of pleasure that are not now closed off? The joy of playing in the snow – gone. The absorption of damming a stream – gone. The pleasure of learning a new piece of music – gone. The thrill of fiddling with my organ – gone. The excitement of visiting a place I’ve never visited before – gone. All gone. All passion spent.
In Nottingham we were neighbours of novelist Stanley Middleton who wrote one book about 23 times. He never moved from his study. He said if he couldn’t imagine all he needed to know he didn’t need to know it. But imagination and memory are malevolent, for I remember things that I might reasonably be proud of only when someone else thanks me for them or reminds me of them, and yet my head is full of past episodes real and imagined that make me squirm with embarrassment or shrink with shame.
Is this because I am tired? Possibly: Christmas is busy and tiptoeing round parishioners’ sensibilities is tiring. And futile. Is it because the last decade has been tumultuous—we have moved six times, twice across the Irish Sea? Is it because of the oppressive weight of diocesan desperation? Is it because circulating testosterone has dropped off, along with a few other things? Undoubtedly.
I often think I’ve been on the planet long enough. And I know I’m not alone, as became clear in a bit of R and R with my friend yesterday. But this solution won’t do, at least not yet. My expectations of myself need to be lowered. Others’ expectations of me need to be lowered: ‘No, the Vicar won’t do that: do it yourself.’
Some marine creatures move about only when they are immature. As they mature they become sessile, fixed to the sea bed. Maybe I’m maturing. SWMBO tells me that Churchill did a lot of his work in bed. It’s taken me a long time to discover the value of two short taps on the fn key at bottom left of this Mac keyboard. I like playing with words as I lie in bed.
To potter, to think, to write, perchance to dream.